Tech Trends

Tech Hiring - Be Quick, Decisive...and Patient

Currently the power is with the candidates, not the companies, when it comes to hiring in the Denver and Boulder area tech scene. There are more job openings for web developers, designers and most technology related positions than there are people to fill those positions. Gone are the days of opening a position and getting dozens of qualified applications who are interested in the position and fine waiting weeks to hear back. The entire hiring process needs to be tightened up in order to hire the people needed for the company to successfully grow.

Since the market is heavily weighed towards few candidates for many open positions, hiring managers need to be responsive to new candidates. Even reviewing candidates on a weekly basis may not be often enough. Once a candidate has interviews lined up at 3+ companies they may want to focus on those rather than accept your interview request, so make sure you are quick to respond to qualified candidates and make the first wave of companies she talks with.

The interview process itself also should be efficient to maximize hiring success. This doesn’t mean sacrificing on the quality of vetting, but the time in between interview steps should be minimized. The whole interview process should be able to happen in under two weeks, and it should be streamlined into as few steps as possible. The typical interview process for tech companies seems to be a phone interview, one in-person interview, and perhaps a coding challenge if desired. Rather than have a series of multiple phone interviews and multiple in-person interviews, candidates prefer to have one very in depth technical, in-person interview even if it takes most of a morning or afternoon. The other companies each candidate is speaking with will likely be in the 1-2 week timeline for the interview process, so the closer you can line that up the better.

Finally, be patient once an offer is made. Good candidates will likely receive multiple job offers, so I wouldn’t advise forcing them to accept a job interview before they wrap up all of their interviews. It’s seen as a red flag if a candidate feels pressured to respond to a job offer before they are ready. Make them the best offer you can based on their value to the company, and let them see other positions through. It is fine to ask for a timeline of when they will be finished with other interviews, but forcing an immediate decision will more likely than not end up in a rejected offer.

 

How soon is too soon to leave your job?

I saw an interesting tweet over the weekend in response to a founder and hiring manager of a tech analytics company saying that if a candidate has a history of 12-18 month stints they aren't a fit for his company. Sarah responded with this tweet, which as of today has 282 retweets and a lot of comments-

I've had 5 jobs in 5 years since becoming a dev. In the process, I've tripled the salary I got starting out and escaped a place I wasn't learning, a place I was being treated like shit, and the city of Boston. Yeah I'm just going to say no to this take https://twitter.com/Shpigford/status/994583740943929346 … -@meyerini

It's an interesting topic without a clear right or wrong answer. I'm not trying to be the moral authority on switching jobs, and this is my personal opinions that likely not even everyone at Code agrees with, which is completely fine. There's nothing inherently wrong with job hopping (let's call job hopping not having a job of 18+ months in the last five years).

To give a real quick background, Code Talent is a 10 person staffing company in Denver that works primarily with Colorado based companies. The companies we work with (Clients) pay the bills, but we spend much more time and resources working with software engineers, designers, managers, ops folks, etc. including hosting 10+ tech meetups at our office each month. So we see both sides of the fence on this topic. We do work with contractors, but Direct Hire placements is roughly 2/3 of our business. Job hopping really only applies to Direct Hire employees since contractors are designed in part to switch projects routinely.

There are good plenty of reasons to leave a job in a short amount of time. A month or two ago I talked to someone in a really bad situation who was worried about leaving a job after less than a year due to concern about looking like a job hopper. Don't be concerned about that! If you are in a bad situation get out of there as soon as you reasonably can. Life is too short and work is too big a part of it to deal with being put down, not being appreciated, not learning new skills or working on interesting stuff, etc. 

On Twitter someone made an interesting comparison to divorce - Divorce rates aren't necessarily up just because people today give up more easily or don't work it on as much as people 50 years ago, but it's easier to leave a bad situation now, which is a good thing. Jobs are the same way - the internet and general networking has changed the ease of switching jobs, so it's much more feasible to leave a bad situation now than in the past. The economy is different these days - my Uncle Jerry worked for 45 years at the same company and that was his entire career. Even Uncle Jerry would be switching jobs if he was my age. Working for a very long time (10+ years) at one company can even be seen in a bad light. Some will question how much have you really grown if you've been working on the same stuff for more than a decade?

The other important reason to change jobs is it is the best way to be paid your market value. Especially for junior engineers, the market value of your services can go up by 50% over 3 years. Almost no matter how good a company is about giving raises they won't be paying you what you can get on the open market. The reality is that most of the time changing jobs is the only way to be paid what the market bears.

The flip side of all of this is what companies see. If you have a history of changing jobs every 12 months, it's fair for a company to expect you will not stay with them any longer than your track record has shown. In turn, that makes a job hopper less valuable to them. It takes time to get up to speed on their technology and to build rapport with colleagues so ideally (if they are hiring an employee rather than contractor) they want hires to work there for ~3 years. The best way to predict if this will happen is by seeing what the trend is based on career history.

Of course a large part of getting people to stick around is on the company. If they don't have a culture of making employees feel valued and letting them work on interesting projects that provide room for growth and learning then a company shouldn't expect you to stay there for 2+ years. It also is very possible to have 5 of the 'bad' situations in a row. Good companies shouldn't rule someone out based simply on career history, but it's reasonable area to dig into and see why nothing has worked out for 2+ years.

The bottom line is (again, just my opinion) to leave a bad situation once you realize it can't be turned into a workable position. If it's a good position, it is probably good to stay there at least two years even if it means you are a bit underpaid the second, third or fourth year at the company. If your career history isn't what a company you are talking to is ideally looking for, be prepared with a good explanation as to why. It is a red flag, but hopefully not a show stopper as bad things do happen to good people, even up to 5 times in a row. The best way to avoid this happening at all is to do your due diligence and homework on a company before accepting a job there. Denver is a connected enough community that you probably know someone who knows someone at the organization you are interviewing with. Getting a general feel for what current or past employees think is a great way to maximize the chances of going to a place you want to work at for at least several years.

I'm sure that not everyone agrees with all of this, and I'd love to hear other perspectives. My email is kevin@code-talent.com. Thanks for reading, and I hope it was interesting and/or useful enough to be worth your time!

General Tech and Hiring Trends in Colorado

Thanks for checking out this blog post! To give a bit of background, I (Kevin Doran) am one of the co-founders of Code Talent, and we started in early 2012 and have helped companies find the technical talent they need to grow, and on the other flip side of the coin find awesome jobs for software engineers, designers, and all kinds of roles at (mainly Denver area) tech companies from CTO’s to sales.

The Denver Devs slack channel expressed some interest in hearing about what I’m seeing in the great Denver area market, so I thought I’d throw it in a blog and see if it’s interesting. If it is I’ll try and make it a monthly feature. Please let me know your feedback on what type of stuff you’d like to hear about or if it’s worthless junk my skin is thick enough to enjoy that feedback as well J

None of this is particularly scientific, and has a tilt toward startups, although some of our startup clients from six years ago are now publicly traded or very large companies. This isn't meant to be anything more than what I'm seeing.

·      Where did PHP go?? We’ve traditionally loved working with PHP shops, and the first major meetup group we got involved was the Front Range PHP User Group (shoutout Dave, Xander, and about 50 other folks who we’ve built relationships with through the years!). These days it seems like PHP has all but disappeared from companies building large scale applications. We have a few clients left, but for the most part it seems a lot of companies have moved to Node or other newer languages. PHP is still pretty common in digital agency type companies, either raw or using Wordpress, Drupal, Joomla, etc

·      Python is back! A lot of companies are using Python for data work, but a recent trend we’ve seen is a few awesome new clients using Python for actual application development.

·      Developers love Vue.js – I’ve talked to a ton of front end focused developers in the last few months who love Vue.js. It sounds like a great framework to use for certain types of applications and a fun one to code on a daily basis. It seems companies haven’t started using en masse yet, but I’m sure it will happen sooner than later as a lot of folks want to work with it.

·      React is the most used JavaScript framework for new UI Development – Again, this isn’t scientific at all, but I think React has passed Angular as far as companies using it. They are very close

·      Speaking of Angular, 2+ is a lot more popular among developers – We have a few clients using AngularJS and there is a lot of people who only want to work with Angular 2+ and Angular 4/5. A lot of upgrades are happening from AngularJS to the newer ones.

·      Big Data is getting bigger – Almost every industry can use data to improve their business, so there is a race to build out software to work with the big data. Both Data Scientists and Data Engineers to build out data pipelines. Python seems to be a popular language to build tools to leverage the data and R and SQL are the big ones to sort and analyze it.

·      Salaries are going up! – Compensation has gone up even over the last few years for mid to senior level engineers. It seems to even be keeping pace with the crazy housing market.

·      California companies are opening Colorado Engineering offices – As crazy at the demand for mid to senior level software engineers is here in Colorado, it’s even worse in California. A huge number of Bay Area and Los Angeles based companies are opening engineering offices in Boulder and Denver to take advantage of the awesome engineers living out here. There are the big names like Amazon, Twitter and Facebook but a lot of less widely known yet still fairly large and prominent companies. It’s happening enough to definitely be considered a trend!

·      Awesome community – Per capita, Colorado probably has the most engaged community in tech in the country. From Denver Startup Week (https://www.denverstartupweek.org/) to a monthly meetup focused on just about any topic you could want to the awesome Denver Devs slack channel  (https://denverdevs.org/#/) there a ton of awesome people looking to help each other.

I hope this is helpful somewhat and I’d love any feedback you have. The best way to reach me is email, kevin@code-talent.com. Thanks!